Individuals have given too much away on the Internet for free for the simple love of exchanging knowledge and art, while big companies have been completely unashamed about demanding that absolutely everything pay for itself.
This leaves users/consumers – PEOPLE as individuals – all too eager to get content for free when we can.
When people put free fiction and art and knowledge up online for free – because we love each other and want to share it as widely as possible, for the sheer pleasure of connection and growth – we resist contributing to politely-voiced requests for tips because we have so little money ourselves, and everything from the big companies that dominate knowledge, entertainment, and art, COSTS. Sucks us dry and reaches into every crevice of our lives on the off chance that it can be sold.
We have to rebalance that. Somehow, we just have to.
Obviously, proper regulation would make a HUGE difference. Govenments have to step in and break up big businesses and litigate what can and cannot be sold. Companies have got around the EU demand that permission must be given to sell data by making the dialogs to give permission as obnoxious as possible. That should be prosecuted too. The law exists because people, as a whole, DO NOT WANT their information sold and used without their ability to control it. Just as artists and writers do not want their content scraped from the web.
We need to vote for people who are prepared to radically shake up the system and not make small steps on the false belief that we will only break ground with centrists if the left-leaning-parties ask quietly or lurch ever more rightward.
We need the broad, proud, socialist steps that so many countries – even the US and UK – made after WW2 that caused such huge growth.
But we also can’t count on that.
If I have one wish for the new year it is that everyone, in their personal capacity, to the extent that they’re able, support creators.
If you can afford to (and by God, some of us can) BUY books and art and tip people who write good articles and posts. And if you’re addicted to free fanfic (that’s OK, I am too) seek out those ko-fis and paypal.mes and GoFundMes etc, which those creators whose work you devour certainly have. Give them something as a thank you for what you’ve gained, even if you can’t buy their art.
If you can’t afford to: promote. Spread. Sing about the people whose work you love.
If they have non-free works you can’t pay for, shout about them too. Say, ‘Hey, this person wrote 300,000 words of fic that kept me alive when I was struggling and I ADORE them and I’m willing to bet this other thing they wrote that costs money is astonishing – please check it out!’
Make 2023 the year we love art and artists, writing and writers, crafts and crafters.
Make the radical choice to be AWARE of what makes you happy and share it. Promote it. Be the marketing individuals can’t do for themselves. Sincere, word-of-mouth-celebration of things you love.
I’m willing to bet that stepping back and really appreciating the things that make you happy will lift you up and make you more aware of your own joys, large and small, too.